Disclaimer: ...Y'know what? It's the last chapter, and I am utterly out of semi-witty disclaimers. So for the record, I don't own Bebop. But I'd like to. Ohh, would I like to...
A/N: I really wasn't sure to refer to this last one as a chapter or an epilogue. In the end I just went with 'chapter,' just because the song title worked so well (n.n) ; but just be warned that the length of this one would count as that of an epilogue. Pretty short, but hopefully, it will not disappoint. :)
Chapter 15: Farewell Blues
From the moment the slam of the door behind Faye reached his ears, Vicious began to watch the days pass in a nearly unbroken silence. He spoke when he had to, but no more. Throughout the time he remained on the ship, unable to do anything else in his condition, all he had exchanged with Spike was one lingering glance.
One thing that Vicious did have on his side was that he was a fast healer. It didn't take long for his injuries to improve, now that they were being properly cared for; and the nearer he came to getting back on his feet, the more necessary it was becoming for him to make a few decisions.
Though he didn't care to think about Jericho Slaine any more than he had to, the Crow had made one good point: the Red Dragon syndicate was dead. His every goal had revolved around his clan, for better or worse, and now that he no longer had that, it looked like he would have to make some alterations to his plans. It wasn't something he had prepared himself for. That made things difficult.
What he did know was that no matter what he decided, nothing could move forward for as long as he stayed on this ship. Not here, with Spike only footsteps away, and the woman who he seemed to put on edge just by being there. Not with Jet and his lingering ISSP mentality, whether he knew it still existed or not, and not with the child who defied all reason. He did not belong to this world, nor did he desire to. He could do nothing while he was here.
It was with that in mind that, after hours upon hours of regaining his strength, Vicious moved silently onto the deck of the Bebop to get his bearings. The night air was his only company as he looked over the water in all directions. The first stop would have to be at his apartment near what was once the HQ, to pick up his ship—the Dragons had had full control over the establishment, and he doubted that anyone would have moved it yet. Once there, it was a matter of deciding what came after.
Then his deliberations came to a slow pause, and he straightened up ever so slightly, his hands remaining fisted in the pockets of his trench coat. His eyes cleared and sharpened as they looked upon the water. "You've stumbled," he stated quietly, after a moment. He was answered with silence. Unmoving, he continued. "It was inevitable. After sleepwalking for so long, you could only falter on the last step."
"You're one to talk about the inevitable," came Spike's low reply from where he stood at the entryway, half-draped in shadow. "You threw a wrench in your 'destiny' theory."
Vicious' gaze lowered, focusing for a moment on the two moons' reflections on the water below. "It was also yours."
He could almost feel Spike's eyes narrow in his direction. "I would have let it go," he replied, his voice calm, but harboring a thousand accusations. Vicious lifted his gaze once more as Spike went on. "It was yours to begin with."
"Is that what you think." Finally Vicious turned, soundly meeting Spike's eyes. "Why did you go back?"
"You know why." Spike's expression was growing darker before his eyes. "She's dead because of you."
"I didn't kill her, Spike."
For a long moment they were silent, their voices stolen by the night wind. There were no grim smirks this time, no knowing repartees exchanged as their eyes challenged one another. Those were reserved for the game. This time, the silence was only broken when a police vehicle flew by overhead, causing them both to shift their attention on instinct.
Once it was out of sight, Vicious returned his gaze to the front to find that Spike's eyes still followed the path the ship had taken.
"...They're doing Jet a favor," Spike finally said, his eyes unmoving. "Disappear, and they'll be watching for you."
"That won't be a problem." Vicious turned his head in the direction of the nearby dock. Eying it carefully, he could see that getting back to his own ship wouldn't be difficult if he stayed hidden. He knew enough hidden routes through Tharsis City that the keenest eye wouldn't know he had been there. Now that he thought about it, though, the bit of warning Spike was giving him could prove to be useful. Deciding where to go would be much simpler if all he had to do was disappear.
Disappear...yes. That was his answer, until the path became clear again. Until he was ready again.
Until both of them were.
Turning back around, Vicious sent a quick look to Spike before approaching the doorway he stood in. Spike watched his every move, but when Vicious grew near, he stayed where he was, blocking the way. Once he was within an arm's reach, Vicious stopped and met Spike's unwavering gaze, and they read each other quietly for a time. Spike's expression barely shifted when he drew breath again, to give life to only two words. "Then what?"
It took a bit of effort to push back the faint smirk that attempted to cross Vicious' lips. Yes, that was the question. Vicious' were not the only plans that had gone awry; and it wouldn't be as easy for Spike to just disappear. He had crossed that bridge long ago. Now, faced with yet another chance, he knew no more than Vicious about just how to go about living again.
Finally, he spoke his answer, indulging Spike slightly by speaking his language, the motto that had endured through two lifetimes. "Whatever happens."
Spike held his frigid gaze in silence as the seconds passed, his eyes both guarded and oddly candid at once. Then, finally, he slowly stepped aside. "Guess so," he answered quietly as Vicious passed him by. One last glance was exchanged between them in passing, to which Spike managed to give a slow nod, cementing a silent agreement. A cease-fire. For now.
Once Vicious had passed, he didn't look back. Spike didn't watch him go, instead moving toward the rail where Vicious had stood, and looking out upon the still water. Faintly he heard the echo of another door opening and shutting in the Bebop, undoubtedly the one that led to the dock. After that, he didn't listen for footsteps. He knew he wouldn't hear them.
Spike hadn't been out there for ten minutes when a different set of footsteps reached his ears, coming toward him and slowing to a stop closeby.
"He gone?" came Jet's voice, its calm steadiness sounding misplaced in the company of the uneven steps that preceded it. He was answered with silence, which he could only take for a yes. Supporting himself on the rail, Jet gave a small 'hmph' of assent. "Guess you probably saw it comin'," he said, looking absently at his hands, then toward the horizon. "Question is what a guy like him is gonna do, now that he's got to decide for himself."
"Disappear." Spike remained motionless when Jet looked over at him, then slowly came to life, tilting his head upward to look at the stars. "Guys like him...they disappear."
From his first step away from Spike to the last step out of the harbor, Vicious didn't look back. There was nothing holding him back as he slipped into the shadows, walking silently toward the beginning. His eyes looked steadily forward as he vaulted the fence that separated the harbor district and the city that, for a matter of hours, had been his alone.
All that was gone now, and he would not look back on that any more than he was looking back now. The past was no more than that, and the future had been interwoven with his plan; but now, thanks to fate alone, that plan was thrown to the wind. His only path was forward.
In another life, not knowing was, to him, the basest form of weakness. Now, however, it brought a slow smirk to his face as he neared his destination. I don't know, Spike. His eyes fixing on the ground before him, the smirk widened a little. I have no idea.
Then what? It was certainly the question. And right now, strangely enough, he found that he really didn't care to know the answer. It didn't matter anymore.
Whatever happened, would happen.
MOVE AHEAD, LAY DOWN DEAD, OR SLIP ON BY...
Well, my beloved readers and reviewers, this is the end! I must say it's come a long way since June of '02. This fic took up the better part of three years of my life, surviving three epiphanies and at least four rewrites, so I hope you've all enjoyed it! Thanks so much for sticking with me until the end. You guys all rock!
Next writing project: I have no idea. Any suggestions are welcome. :)